PLANS to build dozens of homes on a flood-prone ‘wildlife haven’ have taken a step closer - after officers dismissed concerns drainage woes at the site could force water levels up further down the River Dearne’s course during times of heavy rainfall.

The scheme on green space off Darton Lane, Darton, was expected to be granted outline planning permission at June’s meeting of the planning board.

Despite fierce opposition led by neighbours - who were backed by Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis and Darton East’s Coun Steve Hunt - the plans were eventually approved on Tuesday in outline form, meaning full consent will have to be given before building can commence.

The land was indicated in council documents to yield 86 homes, but the application by the Church Commissioners for England requested outline planning for 68 reduced from an initial 73.

Revised plans reduced the number of homes further to 46 - close to half the original allocation for the 3.7-hectare site - following discussions, according to head of planning Joe Jenkinson.

Officers also dismissed concerns over flooding and revealed a series of mitigation measures will have to be done before any homes are built.

“The site is located within flood zone one - low risk - however, several objections have raised issues with flooding on the site at times of heavy rainfall,” he said.

“The flood risk assessment (FRA) provided by the applicant confirms surface water routes from the residential areas - this results in a build-up of water on site at times.

“In addition, the FRA confirms the site has underlying mudstone bedrock affecting ground infiltration.

“The assessment describes the outline proposals for drainage of this site. The proposed drainage strategy is to use a combination of a retention pond located on site to store water at times of heavy rainfall with connections to the existing sewer system.

“This approach and the run-off rate has been agreed in principle by Yorkshire Water and the council’s drainage team, which also includes a new connection on to one of the existing culverted watercourses crossing the site.

“Conditions include a requirement to assess and potentially improve the existing culverted watercourse which drainage officers think is likely to be the reason for the current surface water flooding in the area.

“The detail will have to demonstrate that there will be no increase in flood risk further down the network as a result of this development - officers have confirmed that the site would be very unlikely to cause any increase to flooding in Darfield or Wombwell.”

As well as flooding, traffic - according to objectors - is already at ‘breaking point’ on the site’s would-be access, leading to further calls to axe the bid.

Joe added: “Members will recall this application was presented at June’s meeting and deferred to allow the opportunity for officers to liaise with the applicant on concerns members raised on the number of houses and the impacts on biodiversity and potential flooding issues on and around the site.

“These discussions have resulted in changes to the scheme, including a reduction in number of homes from 73 to 46.

“The application has been subject to three rounds of public consultation as a result of amended plans being submitted.

“A total of 107 comments have been received in relation to the latest round of consultation on the amended plans presented to members.

“There’s nothing you can hang your hat on to try and resist this - in all my years on the council I have never known an applicant make a concession on this scale.”